Hayes ventures back to in-person events


Chris DeRosa

Students enjoy this year’s prom. The 2022 prom was one of the first events to be brought back in-person and with no masks since the Covid-19 pandemic began.

Noah Sparkman, Editor-in-Chief

Hayes is starting to embrace indoor and maskless in-person events again as the world begins an attempt to exit the Covid-19 pandemic.
Many in-person events, like Homecoming, had previously either been held outdoors or got canceled, so the school could adhere to social distancing and/or safety protocols.
There was a lot of work involved to get to this point. It’s certainly no secret that students, parents and staff alike all wanted to return to normalcy.
However, this does require those involved with planning these events to balance what people may want with what will keep them safe.
“We want normalcy, but with the assurance that it is as safe as it can be,” principal Ric Stranges said. “One path is trying to create normal and memorable experiences for our students and staff, and the other is remembering that [Covid-19] is not over yet.”
The fact that the pandemic has still not yet ended is definitely something that seems to be lingering in the back of the minds of event planners and administration.
As of late, spikes in cases in both the United Kingdom and California have reminded people that Covid is not simply going to go away. Although these places are both denser in population and have lower general vaccination rates than Delaware County, it has still forced those involved with events at the school to ponder the safety implications of decisions they make.
“I had to make sure we were sequencing everything in a logical way,” Stranges said. “I don’t ever want to look reckless.”
The process of bringing many of these events back in the way that we recognized them in the past took time, and went through many people. Chief among the returnees is junior/senior prom, and it required a lot of conversation to truly get ironed out.
“It’s a student council event, so we listened to them, and we went to district leadership and Superintendent Kegley,” Stranges said. “We talked to other principals in our county.”
The goal was to arrange a plan for prom that would both fall mostly in line with what other schools were doing, while also gaining the approval of administration.
“We didn’t want to go rogue and do something that everyone else is saying ‘no’ to,” Stranges said.
In doing this, the school is also setting the precedent for the future of event planning during the ongoing pandemic.
Naturally, many still have concerns about events moving forward, and are not sure when the correct time to return to normalcy is.
“We’re at a crossroads where it feels like we are out of [Covid], but we are really not,” junior Benjamin Dabe said. “I’m not sure when the right time to go back is.”
Through it all, the possibility of a step backwards does remain, which is something that Stranges has kept in mind.
“I probably worry more about [a spike in cases] than people think I do,” Stranges said. “I worry about large events, of course, but all we can do is work all the time to make sure that our students and staff are safe.”
When it comes down to it, many feel that there is a choice to make when it comes to actually attending the events.
“I feel like people who feel good about attending the events can come, and those who do not should make the choice that feels best to them,” junior Adam Fronduti said. “That feels like a good balance to me.”
Given the stated goal of giving students a safe environment, this places an emphasis on both the school and students to do what they can to create a safe atmosphere for students to attend events.
“It’s not how I personally feel, it’s how other people feel,” Fronduti said. “I think that we all have to consider how others feel in regard to these events.”
Whatever decision that is made for any particular event is unlikely to please everyone in the current state of affairs. Ultimately, this pursuit to provide safety and comfort is what will allow these events to return to the way we knew them.
With these efforts occurring now, there is genuine hope that we are finally emerging from the worst of the pandemic. With a hopeful exit on the horizon, there is reason to be optimistic for the future, no matter how we get there.
“I love the fact that we have come together,” Stranges said. “We will remember this, and together, we will still create memories that are important to high school.”